February 1942 (2)

Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare, Feb. 1942

Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

 

20 February – Lieutenant Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, of the US Navy became America’s first flying ace while piloting his Grumman F4F “Wildcat” off the USS Lexington.  Fellow blogger Maryann Holloway has a terrific post for Butch___

Rangoon area map, showing Sittang River

Rangoon area map, showing Sittang River

21 February – Allied resistance in Burma evaporated at the Sittang River.  At one point, the British forces that were crossing the river on a single bridge, were forced to blow it up with a large number of men stranded on the other side.  Many of these soldiers drowned when they attempted to swim across.  The Japanese were then free to turn west toward Rangoon, but they would discover that the British had destroyed anything that might be of value to the enemy before they evacuated.

23 February – The Japanese submarine 1-17 made a rare attack on the west coast of the United States.  The oil refinery at Ellwood, California was fired on 17 times, but this only caused minor damage to a pier and an oil well derrick.

Japanese troops in Java

Japanese troops in Java

On the evening of 27 February, the Japanese Eastern Force of 4 cruisers, 14 destroyers and 41 transport vessels sailing for Java were intercepted by US, Dutch< Australian and British warships.  The Allied force consisted of 5 cruisers and 9 destroyers under Dutch Adm.Karel Doorman.  They suffered from inferior firepower, no reconnaissance aircraft, (Doorman felt they should remain ashore), no air cover and the admiral’s lack of experience.  Two Allied cruisers were sunk.  The HMS Exeter withdrew due to damage in her engine room and Ad. Doorman was killed.  Only one enemy destroyer was damaged.

USS Pope

USS Pope

The following night, the 2 remaining cruisers, USS Houston and the HMAS Perth, engaged the enemy west of Batavia, sinking 2 ships and damaging 4 other vessels.  The cruisers were later destroyed by 12 Japanese warships.  The HMS Exeter and 2 destroyers escorting her were sunk as they attempted to escape to Ceylon.  Three of the enemy warships involved in this battle were the Jintsu, Nachi and the Haguro.

Japanese aerial view of the Exeter

Japanese aerial view of the Exeter

The only Allied survivors of the Battle of the Java Sea were 4 US destroyers.  This action showed the perils of a makeshift multinational task force and demonstrated the superiority of certain Japanese weapon types; especially their “Long Lance” torpedoes.  (The wreckage of the Houston was finally confirmed as being located.  This was mentioned in my post “News Day.” which can be located HERE!

Japanese Long Lance torpedo being fired

Japanese Long Lance torpedo being fired

Churchill, upon hearing of the state of affairs of the ground troops on Java, sent a farewell message to the British that remained with the Dutch and Australian units: “I know you will do everything humanly possible to prolong the battle.”

Adm. Conrad Helfrich, Commander of the ABDA, was told the joint venture was dissolved.  Six days later, the last radio station in operation told the ground troops: “We are shutting down…Goodbye till better times.  Long live the Queen!”

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MILITARY HUMOR – 

Camp Polk

181017-military_humor_6-4024

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FAREWELL SALUTES – 

Florence Anderegg – Anchorage, ALaska; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Charles Cornwell – Harlington, TX; US Army, Vietnam945925_391409037634955_1621483807_n

Arthur Cowan – Otorohanga, NZ; RNZ Army # 20161, WWII, Sgt.

Richard Fereshetian – Carlisle, MA; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Geoghan Jr. – No.Augusta, SC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (Ret. 21 years)

Larry Michael – Vinton, IA; USMC, Vietnam, Major (Ret. 22 years)

Reginal Shikami – Chicago, IL; Manzanar Camp internee & US Army Intelligence Service

John Taylor – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Flying Beaufighters & the Buffalo 404 Sq.

Robert Whelpley – McPherson, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Click on images to enlarge.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on November 13, 2014, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Your posts are always good and more interesting than any history book I’ve ever read. I have to admit however, that the turtle was my favorite part. 🙂

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  2. Having a little trouble with your reply button so I’m responding to your question here – I think that you manage to strike the right balance in terms of the details you share. I think the way you lay out the facts speak for themselves without any need for further elaboration. That’s why I’m so pleased to follow.

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    • I’m very happy to hear that. I don’t like leaving any of the units out or what they went through, I like giving details, but – I don’t want to drag out each movement to the point of putting the reader to sleep either. Thanks for commenting, Carol.

      Like

  3. Great gathering of complex moves here, so many tragedies taking place all at once. I had to look up your last line… ‘long live the queen’ as Britain had a king at the time. But the Queen is Wilhelmina, who represented the Dutch government in exile in Britain. You learn something every day.

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    • I’m sorry I left it confusing, but I adore hearing that I sparked someone’s curiosity, Hillary. After ALL your research, I could actually find something new to you is amazing. Thank you for putting it in here, in case anyone else is curious.

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  4. A mention was made of possibly a movie. Butch’s father, I believe, was some kind of a henchman for Al Capone. There’s been many movies made of Capone. Perhaps that was it?

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    • Koji, I do not know of any movie, only a documentary-mini-series, “American Justice: Target – Mafia” put out in 1993 where Edward J. “Easy Eddie” O’Hare played himself. I think you can stream it on-line, not certain. Thank for coming by, friend of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The picture of the turtle and the helmet is funny.

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  6. I think America has an airport called O’Hare, so named after this Hero.
    I think the HMS Exeter also went on to play a role in the Battle of the River Plate out of Montevideo, there were three ships, The Ajax, The Archilles and The Exeter.
    Enjoy your posts gp, they stimulate the mind on the intrinsics of military history.
    Ian

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    • Ian, you picked a good one – the HMS Exeter who fought the Graf Spee in 1939!. But 1 March 1942, she was damaged in the Java Sea; the Electra was sunk in Sunda Strait trying to escort her out of battle as they ran into 4 heavy enemy cruisers and 4 destroyers! She was ordered scuttled – as she began to sink, Exeter was hit by an enemy torpedo and her escorts, the HMS Encounter and USS Pope were sunk.
      And yes, O’Hare Airport is named after Butch. Thanks for all your interest in history, friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • If I recall the Graf Spee was in the neautral port of Montevideo for repairs for a number of days, the Captain was aware of the three HMS ships laying off anchor waiting for her to make a run for it, the Captain didn’t actually make a run for it, but headed out of the port with the intention of scuttling the Graf Spee, the ship was scuttled and sunk, thats the story my old father in law related to me, he was a stoker in the Merchant navy at the time.

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  7. I have heard of Butch O’Hare but cannot for the life of me remember where.. Camo on the couch was good for a double take though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A tough read, such awful battles and I was horrified by the story of the bridge being blown and men drowning as they tried to escape! You don’t candy coat the brutality and I thank you for that.

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    • I almost said you’re welcome, Carol, but being that you said “You don’t sugar coat the brutality…” I want to ask you___
      Being that I have this blog listed as open to everyone, not adult rated, I do tend to dial down on some details and neglect to include some of the ghastly photos – I don’t know how some people will handle it. My question is – do you think I should continue to do this?

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  9. The HMS Exeter was involved in the first major battle of WWII, The Battle of The River Plate on the 13th December 1939, when in company with the HMS Ajax and the HMNZN Achilles took on the German pocket battleship the 11″ Graf Spee, Capt Lansdorff. Bottled up in Montevideo, the Graf Spee was scuttled by her captain who after seeing to the burial of his seamen killed in the action took his own life. He was of the old school, a non Nazi a good seaman and captain.

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    • Thank you for sharing this story. I had heard of the Graf Spee, but not being a student of the ETO, I knew little of Capt. Lansdorff. I appreciate you sharing this.

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  10. Just a fascinating tale that says so much about the human spirit that lies inside us all, but only gets triggered when everything seems lost. A beautiful story.

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  11. Yes, many mistakes were made because the Allies had been at peace for so long while enemies were preparing for war.

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    • Yes – about that war that was the end ALL wars….Who could have expected when Churchill declared war on Hitler – we’d get a bigger, more improved war? We should have been prepared, but I’m afraid FDR and his cohorts decided otherwise.

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  12. It took me the longest time to figure out why you posted a pic of a sofa. I finally enlarged it, and there he was! Great pic!

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  13. Many forget about those attacks on continental US soil. The Japanese were attacking with a vengence in many places. I keep learning bit by bit more about the terrors of war, and me, a peace loving individual.

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    • I’m afraid many of the California sightings of the enemy were created out of fear and/or story-telling. The Japanese balloons did more damage than the subs – the west coast was too far away to be bothered with. Is there something specific you know about, Bev?

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  14. Liked the turtle’s tank-look. 🙂

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  15. Lieutenant Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare looks very smart, GP! 🙂
    Just like the stuff Hollywood is made of, what a story and a great hero!
    I’ll pop over to Maryann Holloway now. Thank you so much for a great article! (Now I know Chicago’s O’Hara Airport is named after him 🙂 )
    Love, Dina & Co

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    • Very true, Dina and I’m thrilled you’ll be going to see Maryann. I don’t know if she’s back from vacation or not, but she’ll get any message sooner or later.
      Take care of yourself and your 3 cohorts.
      GP Cox

      Like

  16. Again, really interesting, especially the information about the Dutch involvement.

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    • Yes, they were there too, John, it’s just often difficult to pick them and/or the Commonwealth nations out when so many resources just state – “Allied forces.”

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  17. Good as usual. I included the USS Houston in my novel. I was looking for heroic cruiser events and this one certainly stands out.

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  18. I had to do a triple take at the camo on the couch. 🙂

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  19. Interesting post as usual, GP, the report, the pictures, the humor. 🙂

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  20. These are the hard parts of history to read. thanks for posting them.

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    • Some harder to take than others, I only omit some of the goriest details when I feel I should. Thanks for reading, Dan. I’m awfully glad I looked you up that day!

      Like

  21. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

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